There are currently no plans for the Government to roll out a new national programme for façade repairs of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats in order to address external seepage issues, said Minister of State for the Ministry of National Development (MND) Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim on Tuesday (2 February).

This is because such issues can be “prevented today through regular maintenance by Town Councils”, he explained.

Dr Faishal said this in Parliament as a reply to a question raised by the Workers’ Party Member of Parliament (MP) Faisal Manap, who wanted to find out if HDB will consider rolling out a national programme of façade repairs for old HDB blocks, given the recent spates of external wall seepage issues.

“The external walls of HDB are common property under the Town Councils (TC) management and maintenance. As they are subject to wear and tear over time, TCs are advised to keep them in good condition by carrying out regular maintenance and repairs where needed.

“Residents who encounter water seepage through their walls typically report such cases to their Town Council as HDB does not have information on the total number of external water seepage cases,” the Minister of State noted.

He went on to explain that HDB also offers assistance to TCs by co-sharing 50 per cent of the façade repairs under the Façade Repairs co-payment scheme.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) will also carry out Periodic Façade Inspection (FCI) from the second half of this year on all buildings about 20 years old and 30 metres high.

“The objective is to improve public safety by facilitating the early detection of potential issues and a timely repair of façade,” said Dr Faishal.

Echoing the same sentiment, Senior Minister of State for Ministry of National Development Sim Ann explained that the external walls of HDB flats are common property under TC’s management and maintenance.

As such it is their responsibility to keep the common property, including external walls in “good condition by carrying out regular and cyclical maintenance”, she said.

The minister added that if the water seepage issue on external walls persists even after the TC have carried out the repair works, then it can seek assistance from HDB to carry out “joint inspection” and offer technical advice to the TC on appropriate repair methods.

Ceiling leaks is joint responsibility of upper and lower flat owners

Speaking on ceiling leak issues in HDB units, Dr Faishal said that the responsibility for repairs is equally shared between lower and upper flat owners.

“Both upper and lower floor flat owners would need to join to investigate and carry out the repairs. In most cases, leakages can be amicably resolved when flat owners exercise mutual understanding and cooperate with one another. HDB also offers assistance to upper and lower floor owners resolves ceiling leak issues,” he said.

Dr Faishal continued, “In cases where the leak is caused by wear and tear, HDB may offer assistance with repairs and co-share the cost of repairs, under the Goodwill Repair Assistance (GRE) scheme.”

Under this scheme, HDB will cover 50 percent of the ceiling leak repair cost, while the remaining 50 percent will be shared equally between upper and lower floor flat owners.

However, if the cause of the ceiling leak at the lower floor flat is due to renovation works, then the upper floor flat owner has to take full responsibility to fix the leak and bear the full repair cost.

Dr Faishal said this in response to questions asked by Bukit Panjang MP Liang Eng Hwa, who wanted to know HDB’s approach to assisting flat owners with persistent ceiling leakage issues, as well as if HDB invests in technologies to curb recurring cases that HDB maintenance contractors are unable to solve.

As for new technologies adopted by HDB, Dr Faishal said that the Board has been exploring new technologies to improve the current repair methods.

It has identified two new repair methods, namely nanotechnology waterproofing system and overlaying waterproofing membrane system.

“For complex and recurring issues which contractors are unable to rectify, HDB will also assist in the investigation and provide advice where possible,” he added.

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